Many older adults plan to age independently but are ultimately forced to make decisions about their care as their health and physical independence decline. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 12 million Americans over the age of 65 live alone. At some point, together with their aging parents, adult children must decide whether to bring in outside care, rely on a family member or look into assisted living. Assisted living communities are designed for older adults who need additional support in their day-to-day lives. This often includes bathing, housekeeping, preparing meals, managing medications, and assistance with transportation and medical appointments. For many adult children, assisted living placement can evoke feelings of shame, apprehension, and guilt. However, these feelings are common and can be dealt with in positive ways.
Dealing with Guilt Over Assisted Living Placement
Choosing to move your loved one into an assisted living community can be one of the hardest decisions to make for your parent. Whether you’re a caregiver who needs additional support, lives long-distance, or is an adult child managing your own life, choosing an assisted living community does not equate to failure. Many family members may experience feelings of guilt and sadness, but also a relief. Working through these feelings can help you feel more confident about the decision and focus on your loved one’s care without feeling guilty. Here are a few ways to cope with guilt according to AgingCare:
· Understand you did not cause the illness. Whether your loved one is dealing with a progressive condition such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s or is declining physically, they would still have to deal with their declining health even if you were able to care for them at home. Moving someone to assisted living doesn’t mean you’ve failed to take care of them. It means they’re getting the care they need to live a life of dignity while receiving high-quality health care in a safe environment.
· Acknowledge your efforts. Being a primary caregiver for a parent is a huge undertaking. Making decisions in situations you’ve never encountered before can make you feel like every decision made is a bad one. However, it’s important to acknowledge your efforts and understand you’re doing the best you can in a difficult and emotional situation.
· Assess your options. Most older adults are resistant to the idea of transitioning into assisted living communities. However, assisted living offers high-quality support to both older adults and their family members. Doing your research, touring facilities, and asking important questions can leave you feeling more confident about the facility you’ve chosen.
Benefits of Assisted Living
While the thought of transitioning a loved one into an assisted living facility can come with some guilt, these communities are designed to provide more independence for older adults. Assisted living can be an opportunity for something new and exciting. Here are a few of the benefits of assisted living that you may not have considered:
· More independence. While many people attach a sense of loss to a move to assisted living, it’s quite the opposite. Instead of relying on a family member or outside party for assistance, all daily tasks are taken care of by staff. Assisted living facilities provide help with bathing, toileting, shopping, cooking, and coordinating medical care. This leaves plenty of time to discover interests and hobbies and cultivate new relationships.
· Safer living option. Assisted living communities offer round-the-clock medical care for residents in the event of illness or injury. In addition, most communities have 24-hour security teams that keep the grounds patrolled and safe. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in seniors. Assisted living communities are designed to decrease the risk of falls. High-quality assisted living communities will have flat thresholds, extra wide hallways, grab bars, walk-in showers, and raised toilets.
· Socialization. Assisted living communities provide a wide variety of activities for their residents. From virtual reality to arts and crafts, there’s always an opportunity to learn and socialize with others. Socialization is proven to be beneficial for one’s overall health, especially for those who have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
· Healthier lifestyle. Older adults have unique lifestyle needs that can be met more easily in assisted living facilities. Residents are provided healthy and balanced meals that meet their nutrition requirements and promote longevity. Exercise is also an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Many facilities offer safe and supervised group exercise classes which help adults stay healthy for longer and are a great way to establish social connections.
Things to Consider
If you and your loved one decide it’s the right time for assisted living, there are a few things to keep in mind as you start touring different communities. At Maplewood Senior Living, we have compiled a list of things to consider and questions to ask when looking for an assisted living community:
1. Ask to meet the team. How can a resident or family member get in contact with the management team?
2. Do they have apartments available? What sizes are offered? Is furniture provided?
3. Ask about the culinary program. Is food prepared from scratch? You might consider asking for a menu or scheduling a time to have lunch or dinner on the campus.
4. Are nurses available 24 hours a day?
5. What type of training is provided for the staff?
6. Do they provide call lights, pendants, or life alerts? What’s the protocol for responding?
7. Is transportation available for outings, doctor’s appointments, or grocery shopping?
8. What accommodations are available when more care is required?
9. What type of programming and cultural enrichment opportunities are available?
10. Ask to speak with a current resident who would be willing to share their experience.
Assisted Living at Maplewood Senior Living
At Maplewood Senior Living, our assisted living option empowers residents to live more independently by providing discreet assistance based on each individual’s unique needs and goals. Our assisted living option provides a personalized care plan that supports longevity and provides peace of mind to family members, ensuring their loved ones have the care they need to live long and happy lives. Try out assisted living at Maplewood today. Many of our communities offer respite care, which is a great way to see if assisted living is the right fit for you and your parents.
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